HC Deb 05 May 1915 vol 71 cc1085-7

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he has received numerous complaints from the wives and mothers of soldiers who are prisoners of war in Germany to the effect that they are experiencing considerable hardship in having to send money to Germany out of their separation allowances in order to supply their husbands and sons with food, for which they constantly ask in their letters; whether he will institute a scheme, either through the War Office or through some committee already appointed or to be appointed, for the purpose of sending money to private soldiers and non-commissioned officers who are prisoners in Germany out of the accumulated and accumulating arrears of the men's pay; and whether, in such cases, whether it is necessary for the wife or mother to send food rather than money, he would secure the repayment of the cost of the food to the sender out of the arrears of the men's pay?


asked, having regard to the harsh treatment of British prisoners of war in Germany and to the fact that many of them have no relations able to send them money to alleviate the hardship of their condition, whether the Government have made any arrangements with the American Ambassador in Berlin for regular payments to be made to British prisoners?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)

Complaints in the sense mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman have been received, but I cannot say that they have been numerous. The Army Council are considering whether some means can be devised of paying to soldiers interned in Germany at intervals a portion of their accumulated arrears of pay. The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman will, however, realise the many difficulties of organisation involved, and also the fact that nothing can be done in this matter without the assent of the German Government, which, in turn, involves the mediation of the American Government. I cannot, however, hold out any hope of an arrangement being made on the lines suggested in the last part of Question No. 19.


Will the right hon. Gentleman, as soon as possible, communicate to the House and to the country, in the interests of those prisoners, any scheme the Government may adopt by which the portion of the pay of a noncommissioned officer or private may be released, so that it may be sent to the prisoner by any means of communication available?


Of course, any scheme that is adopted will be made public. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, realises that the difficulty is not the release of the money, which is ready to be paid at once, but the certainty of knowing it will reach its destination.